In the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale this week, Burger Odendaal lifts the lid on his acrimonious departure from the Vodacom Bulls, adjusting to life at the Lions and setting different goals.
Earlier in the year, it was confirmed that the Bulls and Odendaal had parted ways by mutual consent and that the centre had signed on to play for the Lions.
Unanticipated player exits have become somewhat of a trend at the Bulls since Josh Strauss, Rosko Specman, Jaco Visagie, Warrick Gelant, and now Odendaal, have all left Loftus.
But for Odendaal, in particular, the move away from Loftus felt like rejection because he was the Vodacom Super Rugby team captain and had also just recently signed a two-contract extension.
In a candid interview in the new issue of SA Rugby magazine, the 27-year-old reveals how he found out about his redundancy at the Bulls and the unfairness of the entire situation.
‘The first I heard was when the articles came out that stated Jake White wanted to get rid of, or not use, a couple of Bulls players and my name was on that list. I wasn’t bothered by the news as I had just signed a two-year contract extension with the Bulls, I thought it was all just speculation. When I was officially informed, it was like a punch in the gut. I left feeling numb.’
Odendaal suggested that he was treated unfairly and felt the Bulls’ handling of the situation was in contradiction of the union’s values.
‘I gave everything I had to the Bulls for nine years and the way they handled the situation was ruthless and completely unprofessional. The core values of the Bulls are family and loyalty, but that’s not how they treated me, that’s not how you treat family.’
He also talks about his best and worst moments in Bulls colours, his move to the Lions and how the senior players helped him settle in and made him feel welcome at Ellis Park, his role within the Lions team set-up and what form of competition he thinks will be best suited for South African teams.
*Read the full interview in the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine.
Photo: Lions Rugby